If you’re anything like myself, you dread that time of the month when the cell phone bill comes in. There’s something about paying close to $70 a month for 6 GB’s of data that bothers me. Especially when my computers ISP would allow me 25 GB’s daily for close to the same price.

It gets even worse though when you go over your cellular usage limit. That’s when they really start to gouge you. All of a sudden you’re paying very heavily for a small amount of data.

Within iOS on your iPhone or iPad you’re able to track your data usage, and manually reset the statistics for monthly cycles. The drawback with this is it doesn’t always prevent overusing data since it doesn’t actually notify you when it’s going over the limit. Another hindrance is that you need to manually reset it at your monthly billing cycle, and it’s easier to forget to do that than it is to remember to do it.

Lets go through a list of your options.

  1. Use the built-in data usage tracker located in Settings.
  2. Use a slightly more accurate data usage monitoring app provided by your cellular network provider, and inquire if they are able to send alerts to you when you are reaching your data limit.
  3. Purchase a data usage monitoring app from the App Store.
  4. Jailbreak your device and use one of the available jailbroken apps.

 

1. Built-in Data Usage Tracker

iOs 7 Data Usage Tracker

Built-In Monitor

This method is the easiest method, as it comes built into your iPhone and iPad. Nothing to download, nothing to install or setup. To get to it, open Settings -> Cellular -> CELLULAR DATA USAGE.

From here it shows the current usage and below that, it shows how much cell data has been used by each app. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page you’ll see an option to “Reset Statistics”. Tapping this will reset the values that it has currently logged.

One of the most useful features here is that you can disable specific apps from using cellular data. So if you’re getting close to your limit and you still want to use your cellular data, you can just turn of the apps that are using to much.

The Good:

  • Built-in to iPad and iPhone
  • Easy to use
  • Works in the background
  • Tracks each apps data usage habits
  • Ability to disable certain apps from using cellular data.

The Bad:

  • You have to manually reset the statistics every month
  • Does now warn you when you are reaching or over your allowed data limit

 

2. Rely on your Cellular Provider

cell provider

Cell Provider

Your cellular provider most likely offers a few options on managing your data on your iPhone and iPad. For instance my provider (Rogers) offers a free app that allows me accurately track my usage. You should also contact your provider as they most likely also have a service in place that will send you alerts when you reach 75% to 100% of your data limit.

The Good:

  • It is the most accurate as the data comes directly the cellular provider.
  • Usually free
  • Get notifications when reaching the limit.

The Bad:

  • Maybe long wait times as you contact customer service to enable alerts (if you do have to contact them).

 

3. Purchase an App from the App Store

Data Usage App

Data Usage App

There are also other apps that you can find in the App Store. Most of them cost money however. One that has gotten quite popular is Data Usage, and as I write this it is currently only $0.99 for iPhone. There are other apps out there as well so if you do plan on using an App Store app, be sure to browse around and find one that you like the most.

The app Data Usage does more than just set alerts and track cellular usage. You are able set notifications when you are reaching your limit. It can also track Wi-Fi usage and lets you set data usage limits by day, week and month.

And on top of that it displays handy graphs and charts that show how you’ve been using your data and even gives you predictive forecasts on whether you’ll have enough available bandwidth (data) for the entire billing cycle.

The Good:

  • When your billing period ends it can automatically reset the current cellular tracking data.
  • Sends notifications when you reach set percentages of limits.
  • Sets limits not only monthly, but daily and weekly
  • Predictive forcasts
  • Graphs and Charts

The Bad:

  • Required to be opened and running in the background to track data
  • Usually costs money

 

4. Jailbroken Apps

weetrackdata

WeeTrackData App (image source)

This method requires that you have jailbroken your iPhone or iPad. Guide on how to jailbreak here:

With a jailbroken device you will be required to download and install an app that tracks your data usage. And again most of them cost money just like the App Store. Using a jailbroken app over one from the App Store has a few benefits however. An app from the App Store has a lot of restrictions that a jailbroken app doesn’t (this may change with the upcoming release of iOS 8).

For instance, the first and best (in my opinion) is WeeTrackData. It not only automatically runs in the background, it runs in the Notification Center, which is incredibly convenient. If you are planning on going with a Jailbroken application to track your data usage, you definitely want to check out this Notification Center widget.

Another option available to you is CCMeters. It gives your live data usage and live system status monitors that you can place in either your Notification Center or Control Center. In order to run it in Control Center however, you need to install additional software called CCLoader.

The Good:

  • Can be conveniently placed in the Notification Center or Mission Control
  • Runs automatically in the background
  • Notifications

The Bad:

  • Requires a Jailbroken iPhone or iPad
  • Usually costs money
  • May require additional software depending on which app your choose

 


I personally just use the data usage tracking app from my cellular provider, checking it once in a while at work is simple enough and works well enough for me. How do you track your data usage, or do you even bother to?